About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Monday, July 31, 2017

News, Views Etc . . . Monthly Round-up

A quick cover-all to help clear a desktop full of Rack-toy Month articles which are producing ominous whirring from the Laptop's fan!

Charity

Ever wondered what happens to all the toys attached to unsold sale-or-return magazines? I know I have, and there is now a donation-program to help a cancer charity by selling them as stand-alone novelties - I saw this in Basingrad's Wilkinson store, whether it's a one-off local or national-policy thing I don't know, but Wilko don't do magazines themselves as far as I know, so they must be coming from a central sorting place somewhere?

Holidays

Looking for something to keep the kids amused? The Evil Empire continues to spread and I'm sure Marwell Zoo will prove cheaper that Legoland, and you'll get to see some real animals before we've killed them all.

Speaking of extinction - as I was! - there is an exhibition of life-size, motorised models of dinosaurs at London Zoo for the next six weeks, the models include a T-Rex (of course!), Brachiosaurus, Pterodactyl, Triceratops and an Edmontonia - a kerthunkersaurus with spikes down it's sides and a real bludgeon of a kerthunkertail. The exhibition is included in the zoo's entry-price (so you can visit more real animals before we've killed them all), called Zoorassic Park (geddit!) and mounted by ZSL.

Idiot's Corner

That'll be Britains' famous secret Welsh factory will it?

Ah yes! Meet 'Blue Turtle' the elephant, surely rarer than rare!

Since when were Batman and Saturn Girl considered Toy Soldiers? The vagaries of trawling through the results of click-farm 'stats' manipulation! I will be doing a whole post on HobbyDB in September or sometime soonish anyway, but in the meantime can I suggest that if you get an uncontrollable desire to visit HobbyDB, you instead take yourself to Planet Diecast; as having two similar databases in one Cyberverse is dumb, especially when the owner of the new one . . . err . . . used to own part of the old one!

I was amused by these, some Alibaba brand-on-a-brand Chinese outfit, but what I like is that the French soldier looks more like a British soldier than the British soldier! Perhaps some enterprising tourist-kiosk owner near Waterloo (London) could stock-up on them, with a suitable sticker retro-fitted to the boxes of course, I could come up with some witty epithets - I'm sure!

More here

General News

Is a bit slim since the previous news wasn't that long ago, but Games Workshop have enjoyed a 10% rise in their share value following the announcement their full year profits are expected to beat market forecasts, not hard when you've spent the previous 18 months making all your fans (read: 'suckers') buy a whole new system!

The steps of St Paul's Cathedral were covered in 700 Teddy Bears the other day - of all shapes and sizes - each representing one of the children who flee war-torn Southern Sudan and enter Uganda each week. While artist Jason Bruges is showing an installation of toy pandas under a sheet of glass at the Living Planet Centre in Woking, Surrey - call me a critic, but it looks remarkably similar to an installation of little, lumpen, figures at the Serpentine Gallery about 10 years ago?

Composition News - A life-size soldier made of mud (representing the British losses at Passchendaele) was unveiled in Trafalgar Square last Tuesday, designed to be displayed for four days before being allowed to dissolve in the rain; our weather last week means it's probably already a bit featureless, but may be worth a look if you're passing.

Those Peter Rabbit commemorative 50p-coins mentioned in a previous 'News, Views'; There's currently a false scarcity-bubble on the Jemima Puddle-duck coin leading to prices of between 7 and 15-quid for something you can only get fifty-pees worth of stuff with!

Links

Second case of a Toy Soldier themed restaurant in two months, are we seeing a trend develop here?

Interesting and thought provoking; how some kids value one item with obvious love, while others are trying to win the 'He who dies with the biggest pile, wins' competition - far too young.

Following-on from the Cornish mess a few weeks ago is this on the other side of the world . . .
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

B is for Baravelli

Not Barabelli! That's something you get in Tunisia if the hotel's chef doesn't cook the fish properly!

Today's post comes courtesy and as a collection of contributions from three people, so I'd better name-check them first, Kostas X from Greece sent me several of the images about a year ago (?), and I was holding them for the HK Blog (where they will still appear, but now as duplicates!) when the other day I got an eMail from John Roquas in the Netherlands, offering me Baravelli images someone had asked him about.

Given other stuff which was occurring at the time; I was a mite confused and replied in such a manner as to confuse John in return! However we then arrived at the fact that Tim ('Gisby' in comments) had been the one asking! So thanks to Tim for facilitating, John for supplying, and Kostas for all he's sent the Blog[s] (most of his contributions are on the Airfix Blog) over the years.

I believe some of these images have recently been seen by some of you on The Facebook, so I've tried to enhance the post with stuff from the collection, where it's ID'able as being the same Hong Kong stuff as was supplied to Baravelli, but apologies - if it's all 'old hat'!

Also as mine are all in storage we will look at them again one day, but their absence is not a great loss as the only set I think I have which is not here is the foot Romans, which are simply copies-of-copies of Giant.

The earlier boxes were parroting Airfix (and/or the first version Atlantic boxes), although with the same bloodthirstiness - as the old guy gets blown-away - that Airfix had with their dying card-sharp type.

The later boxes (which I think we've looked at?) were a more disappointing generic, with six artwork 'thumbnails' on each side, and a sticker or marker-pen mark to indicate which of the 12 the contents were most likely to represent!

These are John's, and their contents have been somewhat enhanced! With a box normally having 15 mounted or 42 foot figures, it appears these have the contents of two foot sets, a mounted set and a few more. John explained that that was how they ended-up as his boxes became the casualties of childhood!

Points to note are that the foot figures are all Airfix piracies while the mounted figures are late copies-of-copies of Giant. The Indians have two poses made from Airfix mounted figures, while the Cowboys have one made from the crawling guy, who now seems to be being shot, nosily and messily? They also have three clones of the High Chaparral's 'family-in-residence', namely Blue Boy (pointing), Uncle Buck (bottle!) and Manolito (designed for riding - See the AirfixBlog post)!

But, in Kostas's box, it all goes a bit 'Pete Tong' and not because the contents have been added to post-purchase, but because the contents have been cobbled together to fulfil an order/contract on a Friday afternoon . . . or something like that!

The majority of the contents are copies of Britains and Crecsent 'combat infantry' usually associated with Woolbro, to which have been added four mounted cowboys and Indians with their horses (neither hoses nor riders the usuall Baravelli types) and a lone ex-1st version Airfix 8th Army man running.

The bag is identical to those in mine which came from a mint batch Andy Harfield had in his lists back in '97, even to the very small-sized staples, so I'm sure it's 'right', just so wrong!

So these are the figures filling the bulk of the bag in Kostas's box of Cow Boy A Piedi; we looked at them as a tail-ender on the Khaki Infantry page but will have a quick look now. The six common poses of Britains' Khaki Infantry and five of Crescent's Desert Troops, all scaled down to approximately 25mm.

While the bag's contents are a bit of a shock, over the years there have been various Baravelli sets appear on the web with odd or non-standard contents, so I think they weren't that fussy?

The sets they are more commonly associated with.

I don't have any yellow ones here, but I do have some blue ones (UN!) along with the more common green ones. The mounted figures are found in the Fort Cheyenne Frontier Set from YF (who carried ex-Giant knights and Mongols), and we will look at them in detail on the Hong Kong Blog when I pull my finger out and finish the posts - there's 69 in various stages of editing in Picasa!

Back to Baravelli proper and this is a set I don't have - so a bit of jealousy, but only really for the box which is so cool; it's half-Airfix artwork and half Army Men rack-toy artwork, with a quite 1960's French-looking armoured patrol in the background.

Although this set doesn't have as many foot figures as an Airfix box, it is heavier on the cavalry, which back in the 1960's/70's made this stuff very useful if you were looking to build cheap war-games armies.

Because Baravelli were shipping generic HK Airfix-clones as imports in/for their branded packaging rather than either sourcing their own more unique figures (Solpa), or making them themselves (Montaplex), they do turn-up elsewhere and we've looked at them on the Airfix Blog, but we can touch on them again.

This set is pretty much the same as John's, but exactly half the contents; all figures in a similar neutral sand colour with one each foot and two each mounted on horseback and mounted on camel.

They were also available in other colours!

Roman Cavalry; again there's the contents of about two-and-a-half sets here, and I know when I got mine from Harfields there were exactly 15 hoses and 15 riders in each little sealed bag - although after that bag in Kostas's cowboys; the rule seems to be . . . anything goes!

These are sub-piracies of Giant's Romans, sort of 2nd/3rd generation, mounted on the horse I call Mexican and we have looked at several variations here, but will look at them all again on the HK Blog. One pose each from Marx and Britains Herald and one converted from a Crescent foot figure.

A close-up of what appears to be a good match, as we saw on that Roman page; the differences can be quite subtle, and without the Baravelli's in my hand, it can only be guesswork but I've tried to match the figure colours; just couldn't find a black horse at short notice!

The foot figure is only a guide, but I think he is Baravelli, and we will look at the Infantry properly one day when I get my sartorially rather fetching mauve'y, purple'ish puke-pink sample out of storage!

Thanks again to John Roquas, Tim Peterson and Kostas for creating this post.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

T is for Treason - in the Tower!

Picked this up for a quid-fifty in a charity-shop the other day . . .

. . . Attracted to the image of a figure and the news - upon closer inspection - that there were more.

As with a lot of these games it's mostly air, stored in two loose-formed boxes supporting the board over the component compartment, but it was all there, with four figures, and a raven!

The figures (of a type I call Mocherette - but that's for another day and another page!) are a mix of two modern tourist box-ticking types - Yeoman Warder and Guardsman, and two historical figures - a knight in armour and Anne Boleyn. There's also a micro-model of the White Tower, the raven (approximately 54mm) and a gold-chromed crown ('Crown Jewels' token), which had its own plush, velveteen bag with a draw-string.

The figures are a standard 25mm (I didn't have the Airfix - or any - guards to hand!), and the knight is a scaled-down copy of the old Peltro-Westair figure later carried by Kinder. All four are a tad crudely-finished (the Yeoman leans drunkenly to one side and the Guardsman holds a pop-gun), but nothing which a bit of paint wouldn't hide at this scale!

Saved bits going into the collection, everything else went to the recycling bin. It's a tourist item really; the company behind it (The Green Board Game Company) has clearly approached or been approached-by Historic Royal Palaces to knock something together for the gift shops in the latter's high-heritage-factor, end-destination, tourist-trap, leisure facilities!

Indeed - because of the tourist-link, it's likely that a fair few of these have been taken out of the country?

The map may have some use for role-playing, but I think it's a bit too busy to be easily converted and if one was minded to do something in a real place, it would be easier to start from scratch.

The play, as far as I could tell, was a combination of Cludo (Clue) and Magic the Gathering (!), no; Monopoly, having a card-driven, collect-items-to-act, race-against-the-other-players mechanism, with moves in-turn, round the board. I've scanned the paperwork in case it ever proves useful, but I can't see myself getting much mileage out of the whole, and all this stuff takes-up a lot of space - for what it is - better to get it recycled before we all drown in human detritus.

I've actually visited friends in the Queens House buildings (well; now the Vichy French are calling me big-headed I might as well talk like a big-head!), which are used by some of the permanent staff to live-in and they are fascinating; from the outside they look like a row of large, semi-detached Elizabethan town-houses, but inside they are a warren of tight, narrow corridors, steep, snaking staircases, low ceilings and beams you can easily brain yourself on!

Links

Friday, July 28, 2017

MDM is for Many Delightful Miniatures

This is both a contribution and a shout-out for help . . . and an offer! Melvin contacted me a while ago asking about MDM (who we looked at briefly back at the start of the blog) and specifically for more information on a set he had, titled Infanterie Legere 1809-1813 17e Regt - Chasseurs.

Which in English is: Light Infantry - 1809-1813; 17th Regiment of Chasseurs. Some sources state that the MDM stands for Manufacture de Miniatures, while MDM themselves stated it was in honour of Marc and Michel, the founder Mssr. Rene Daniel's sons, as in - Michel Daniel [et] Marc.

The catalogue information is on the underside of the display plinth (set 201) and I couldn't add much more at the time other than point Melvin to that old post with the addendum that I though the website (which was shaky then) had now died completely, but that I'd heard they were making again but in 70mm metal.

Now, the offer; Melvin was after the value of the set, and would be willing to let the set go for the right offer once the value has been established, so if anyone knows what a set like this in good-nick goes for he'd appreciate a heads-up, and if anyone would like to divest Melvin of the set (I would - but I know it's beyond my budget!), drop me a line and I'll pass you on to Melvin.

You get three musicians and a three-man colour-party/command group in the van' and six marching infantry with what looks like an artillery-corporal on a horse, sandwiched between the two sets of foot figures; or is it a self-appointed Emperor?

Melvin hasn't stated the size, but from the bases I'm pretty sure these are the same 40mm figures we looked at last time. Also I think the heavier-based 54mm sets only came singly or in fours.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

S is for Stop the Press! B is for Bugger!

I mean...if I'd known? I would have been there . . . with a butterfly net!

http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/music/plan-b-review-back-right-where-he-belongs-a3596001.html

Fussa-russa - fussa-russa . . . heeh-heeh-heeh!

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Also - in my mail-box today, Barney's got a sale on!

http://www.heraldtoysandmodels.co.uk/catalog/landing_page

Dear Collector, today sees the start of our Big Summer Sale with many items reduced by up to 25% off - click on our 'Specials' tab to the right of our 'Items for Sale' page and see a staggering 290 specials on offer - Get Them While They're Hot! We also have a good selection of Hilco and Taylor & Barrett plastic Farmyard models just arrived, including some harder to find animals. Happy collecting! Barney

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Ah Yes - people who read don't need the advice, the people who need the advice don't read - some "politic constant attack" for you!

E is for Elders

Not Eldars, they are pointy-headed alien space-marine things and a different scale, it would only confuse! But sticking with tribal elders, it's another in the early British Wild West series (which will continue in September), the standing 'chief' with full war bonnet.

We've looked at these before but they are new images, although they won't actually add anything! Britains; old to the left, young to the right, fourth figure across is interesting as he's PVC vinyl but with the Herald base mark.

But then it gets complicated, with two definitely Speedwell ('polo' bases and full-colour blankets/cloaks), and two, err...not! Both the 'nots' (with red or blue fringe on white) are in the flesh-colour associated with the UNA smallies; a very dark almost maroon-chocolate brown - so I think it's fair to . . . yes . . . assume (!) they are UNA until firmer evidence comes to light.

The alternative, given they both have the Speedwell base green, is that a second set of moulds were made by Speedwell at some point, copied not from the Britains originals, but - as the figures are smaller - from the already pirated first set? This seems less plausible than the UNA route and still doesn't let Tuesday's unknown Cowboy 'clubbing with rifle' off the hook!

From the rear, there's a marked difference in the painting treatment of the two copies.

Heap-Bigum Pow-wow! As Little Plum might have said . . . I will re-shoot this in a few years when hopefully not only will the red-fringed chap have rejoined the group, but I should have picked-up a few more; these early British copies aren't that rare, they just come in in dribs and drabs, and I think I have Michael Melnyk to thank for the two Speedwell's coming together in a drib, or was it a drab?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

L is for Lucky Cats?

The file is 'E for Erasers Again' but that's boring! Brian Berke sent these shelfies back in Jan/Feb sometime, and they've been sitting on the desktop pretty-much ever since, getting pushed back by other things, or forgotten!

So, a return to Iwako with these little Asian, cartoonish, Ninja-head type chappies? But Brian sent something which made me look twice, however first we need to go back to previous posts on these . . .

. . . as I thought I'd pretty-much sorted the Iwako cats, managing to track down most of the colour variations and a set of three copies . . . but it seems Iwako had anticipated cat-people doing such things, at such speed, and have taken steps to force more shekels from our pockets . . .

. . . as Brian also sent us these two (and I've since seen the right-hand one in Paperchase), and - upon viewing - you quickly realise that some of the cats have big, open eyes, thicker collars and the other hand up!

The card is the same card as last year's, but the cat is a new sculpt, clearly trying to be the Chinese 'Lucky Cat' . . .

. . . as I shot here in the window of the little import shop Affinity East in Basingrad's Festival Place shopping precinct, although; they all have the same collar and both eye-types, but they all have the left hand up? Is there any significance to all this? Does anyone care? I have a bunch more Iwako cats to track-down, that's the important fact - Doh!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

O is for Out of Ammunition!

When in doubt; get the rope and clubs out! More of a box-ticker this one as I don't have many examples of either pose, so I've shoved them together into one post

Britains - original on the left; I suspect repainted, it's not clear but he's a bit glossy and I don't remember seeing any other old ones with that shade of blonde! That shade, however, is used by Hong Kong on the final, separate-base version (right-hand figure) that's also so colourful he can only be clowning rope-tricks at a Rodeo!

In the middle is a mid-issue PVC, just after the Hong Kong production move, he's not bad as a colour-way.

Straight copies - They seem to be Speedwell, Una, Speedwell and Hong Kong going from the left. The Hong Kong one is assumed, compare him to the kneeling firer (last week) and you can see the same gloss paint and glossy plastic, and while some of the late Trojan's are glossy plastic they are also wackier plastic colours, and less glossy paint?

Trojan based their guy on a Lone Star version (or was the Lone Star after Trojan?) by replacing the lasso with a whip. The old rope-end has been left as a rudimentary or 'vestigial' pistol!

The clubbing bloke is never a priority and as a consequence I've only shot four, two held here and two a few years ago. These are the local two, a late vinyl Britains from HK to the left and Speedwell to the right.

Two more; one of the base-marked Speedwell's in a soberer grey plastic and an 'unknown' in black, with a thinner, unmarked base, he looks to be one of these 'Early British' figures, and the boots painted to match the base is a trope we see with Speedwell Khaki infantry, is he a Speedwell variant? Unmarked UNA (the thin base matched the small Indians?) or unattributed VP?

Or another company altogether; Kentoys haven't been linked with Wild West (and the quality's poor for Kentoys), but then there's this Best Model Sets newly re-discovered by Plastic Warrior magazine's members; JG Garratt credits BMS with 'Westerners', his term for Wild West, might this be a BMS figure, which would make the likelihood of some of the unknown Khaki Infantry being BMS greater too? So far all the BMS finds have had heavier bases though?

Close-up's to compare the different base styles. The black one is a three-part mould to Speedwell's two, with the split-line round the edge of the base rather than straight-across it but it's a much cruder, simplified figure, a copy of a copy, if it wasn't for the matt paint and khaki infantry link; you'd think - maybe Hong Kong.

Monday, July 24, 2017

T is for Test Shot

I found these looking for other stuff for the ongoing figure posts and don't think I've ever shown them here? Taken nine years ago, they seem to be a test-shot for the Pioneer Covered Wagon, announced by Britains in 1972.

Photographed a few months before the blog started and while I was still getting my head round digital photography they aren't the best shots here, but they aren't the worst either!

As far as I know this configuration was never issued as a retail item, even with painted crew.

The canvas tilt or cover is in an unusual deep turquoise or what interior designers call aqua! (that's 'water' in English!), while the wagon is a wood-brown, not so wacky, along with the wheels in a different shade.

The undercarriage is another more-'sky' blue, and the accessories are also browns, with a set of unpainted crew, missing reins and whip. The purple vinyl was - however - used within the Wild West range toward the end; some Deetail Mexicans and Apaches spring to mind?

The team though is fully painted, but - again - missing the reins. The Gun team had by then (1972) been given this team, and if not (happy to be corrected!) the existing Stage-coach had been using it for some years.

The feeling is the team was taken from the production line of one of the other sets and added to this otherwise test-shot mock-up. Other clues are the thick layer of dust on an otherwise un-played-with model and the lack of arrows on an otherwise undamaged model.

In the first two catalogues issued with the wagon ('72 and '73) the wagon is shown as brown with a cream/neutral/manila canvas tilt, but only as an 'artist's impression', from the 74 catalogue onwards the familiar dark-blue wagon with pure-white cover, cream tools/barrel and a black undercarriage is always photographed.

In both cases the wheels are red, the undercarriage going red in '77 to match. Both (wheels and frame) dun in '78 and dark brown in '79. How these changes played-out in the shops in anyone's guess, or even if they all made it to a retail release, but brown wagon and turquoise tilt doesn't seem to have ever featured.

I suspect therefore that this was a test-shot, maybe playing with colours, but more likely just a 'check-fit', and probably came from one of the big Britains 'archive' sales in the early part of the new century. I may even have been told that at the time, but if I was - have forgotten so in the intervening years!

Whatever - it's different!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

C is for Cut n' Shut!

Having looked at the other 'halves' the other day, we'd better look at the remnants and what was done to them, but first; the Britains original.

With one of the kneeling chaps from the other day to remind, here's the Herald standing firing Indian, two originals to the left both with six colours, and to the right; a simplified paint scheme from later-on - four colours). Above is a vinyl Hong Kong produced one next to the kneeling pose.

But the two missing halves from the other day weren't married by Benbros, or Trojan, or any of the other 'suspects', it was Cherilea who did the dirty on Britains!

The left-hand figure in both shots is Cherilea's cut-and-shut job on Britains firing figures while the right-hand one IS the Trojan bandwagon figure, copied from Cherilea . . . or was it? Lone Star made the same figure and Plastic Warrior believe the same sculptor (surgeon!) may have been working with/for a number of these companies?

Hong Kong was cleared to replace the standing pose, but the replacement with his dandily dyed suede pyjamas is a lot easier on the eye than that awful squatting cowboy we saw the other day.

There was a darker maroon-red one (with blue feathering) I remember from my childhood which I'm still looking out for, and it will turn-up, these aren't uncommon, and I need two anyway - to steal a base for my mustard yellow chap!

Above him is a comparison between early (UK) and late (HK) vinyl figure, the PVC chap is a little smaller, this could be down to a new mould being smaller, or the shrinkage of the softer material?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

T is for Tin Men

But not THE Tin Man (Aurora did one!), nor actually tin at all, they're plastic and armour was thin wrought iron I think, not tin or even steel? Yeah - I'm waffling again for an opening paragraph aren’t I, shocking! Never mind - it's only a box ticker for the insectophobes!

Timpo, more from that folder I found on the dongle, paint colour variations of the early versions of Timpo's 'solid' knights.

Plastic colour variations of the later Action-packs.

That's it - they're common as muck in a mess-tin!